Before the 50K
Yeah. 37 days, or 36 days and a wake up. Either way it’s around the corner: Ironman Florida. As my first iron distance triathlon, you could say that I’m thinking about it more as it creeps closer. Am I nervous? Yup. Am I excited? Yup, that too. I’ve given some thought about what I’ve had to give up over the past 11 months and I can’t say yet if it was worth it or not. Physically I’m in the best shape of my life: 154 lbs, 6-7% body fat, and a lot of endurance and short distance speed. Overall health, that’s another story. I’m constantly walking a fine line between over training and just enough training. Often times, I sound sick from pool chlorine causing a runny nose, which also causes a random cough. Family life, it’s good; however, I’ve had to put in a lot of long weekend workouts away from my new wife. Time I can’t get back. Either way, good or bad, it is 36 days and a wake up until I find out if this all has been worth it.
I love triathlon. I love endurance racing and I’m getting better. In fact, I ran my first Ultra Marathon a couple weeks ago. It was the best racing experience I’ve had: Difficult, fun, and felt good afterwards. This is only my second year in the sport of triathlon and I can see doing this for the rest of my life at the amateur level. As far I running, I’ve been running for 13 years and my first marathon was in 2004. I now have 5 under my belt and 1 ultra. Not too bad. But I think my focus the past 5 years has been too much on the overall distance and not enough on speed. I’ve given some thought to my next season and I’m thinking I want to keep the majority of my races under two or so hours and do them all locally to DC/VA/MD. My new focus will be getting faster from half marathons to 5K runs and Olympic to Sprint triathlons. I’m not going to stop long distance training altogether, just less frequent. Instead of doing three 5-6 hour bike rides a month, I’ll do one, with many fast 2 hour rides. Same with running, I’ll keep one long 3 hour trail run once a month for fun. Swimming? More masters swimming.
I haven’t been blogging much-when you have a part time job of 10-15 hours a week working out on top of regular work, 2 hours of commuting daily, and time with family and friends, blogging takes the backseat. So, let me catch you up on significant workouts and races from the last time I posted in May:
Rhode Island 70.3:
Overall: Great race! Point to point bike and two lap run course.
Swim: Swells, rain, wind, and cold. The race directors made the swim optional. However, my best swim yet. I almost lost my wedding band at the turn around point.
Bike: Went out fast. In the first hour I covered 22 miles including a short bathroom break, then 3100 feet of climbing ensued over the next 34 miles. 18.5 average speed overall. 2.5 mph average faster than last race.
Run: Felt good, until that damn hill around Brown University. Average pace: 9:50. Not great, but faster than last race.
Overall: 5:50:37, 38 minutes faster than my May 70.3.
Race Venue: Providence. Eh. Not going back. There was a music festival going on right next to my hotel. Even on the top floor, 7 floors up, it sounded as they were in my room. My wife and I had to get ear plugs from the front desk. The race was on Sunday, but on Friday the music didn’t stop until 12 AM. For Saturday night, the Celebration of Drums started as promised at 12 AM with a marching drum line outside our window coming alive with snare drums, bass drums, and quads all into the moment. It continued until 2 AM. I had to be up at 3 AM to eat and get on a bus at 4 AM for transport to the swim 56 miles away. Good times.
Notes: Completed the race all on feel. My heart rate monitor battery died race morning. Not going to do this in the full Ironman, at least on the bike, maybe for the run. Need to eat more on the bike. Take off my wedding band before the swim.
Training Highlights between July 12 (RI 70.3) and September 19 (North Face Endurance Challenge 50K):
Recovery. I should have taken at least a full week off of nothing but stretching and walking. But I didn’t. I felt great. So, I decided to move into regular training, including full body weight lifting. Big mistake. I hit a lull the next week that continued until early August. I tried everything to take me out of it. Massage, chiropractor, supplementation, active recovery, but this lull just lingered. Then one day in early August, I woke up, and felt great.
Indian Head 100. I found this ride on its website and decided to do it one Saturday. Went out to Indian Head Naval base, parked at the police station, told them where I was going and took off. Fully charged Garmin 305 (with course wake points), iPhone, 3 water bottles of fuel, and wearing summer gear. The first 40 miles were great. Averaging 18 mph at a low heart rate, low 80s, little traffic, and wonderful scenic views. At mile 45 the weather changed, thunder storms rolled in, and at mile 56 or so, I ran out of fluids, my GPS died, and there was no cell reception. I found my way back to the car after 75 miles, cold, dehydrated, and tired.
Fueling. One week out from the 50K run, I completed a 70 mile time trial on the WOD. Averaged 18mph including stops, and I really liked the GU products (Vanilla bean and Espresso with caffeine). No upset stomach, plenty of energy, easy to digest. Gatorade is OK, but I have to get used to it for IM Florida.
Completed about three 90 mile rides at an easy pace <80% of MHR.
My longest run during this period was 12.5 mile trail run.
North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (31 miles):
I ran with a co-worker during this race, which was great. The run was along the Potomac from Algonkian State Park to Great Falls Park and Difficult Run. The course was moderate difficulty with a few 58% grade (yes grade) climbs and descents. Aid stations were from 3.3 miles to 6.7 miles apart so I had to carry a light camelback to make it between stations. The aid station food was great! Chicken noodle soup, power bars, Pb&j sandwiches, gels, and candy. I tried to eat my entry fee worth of food. Being a trail run, with steep inclines, tree roots, and rocks you tend to average a slower time vs. a road race. For example, the fastest finisher averaged ~7:35 minute mile for the race. I averaged about ~12:30 minute mile, but it was a ~11 minute mile until mile 27. I officially hit the “wall” about mile 30.
Notes: More speed work. Fewer gels with caffeine, maybe they would be better toward the end of the race when I experience a lower average heart rate.
So I felt pretty good coming off this race, and I was fully recovered within a week. And now with three weeks of hard training left before my taper, I will be incorporating Tabata speed workouts mid week, and I have two more 5+ hour rides and 2.5 hour runs (not back to back). The final three weeks, will include recovery and two taper weeks with long workouts the final two weekends of a long swim/medium fast bike/short fast run (1: 1hr swim/4 hour ride/2 mile run, 2: 45 min swim/2 hour ride/2 mile run). During the week will be recovery sessions and short fast Tabata and tempo workouts. So, to be honest, I don’t know what time I’m going to finish in Florida. I know I have the endurance to finish, but how fast?